Inhabiting the Body: 1st Chakra Exercises

“When we live in exile from our sensate reality of the body, we live in exile from the source of our aliveness.  The only place that we can reconnect with this aliveness is in the body.  Of course we all have bodies, yet few of us truly inhabit our bodies.  We may live a short distance from the body divorced from our feelings, sensations, intuitions, and instincts.  The body may seem like a foreign land that we have read about but never personally visited.  And just as we may come to know a foreign land through the stories we’ve heard and the pictures we’ve seen, the actual reality of the place can never be known until we have walked, eaten smelled, touched, and been there ourselves.  When we begin to live in the body again, we take of citizenship in our personal residence. In this way we come home to the body.” ~Donna Farhi

I feel like I have spent all month harping on the fact that the 1st chakra’s access point is the physical body…but really, how cool is that? We’ve got everything we need right here in front of us, all we have to do is be present. And as I sat with that this month, I began to notice how hard that can be. Some of the signs of a 1st chakra imbalance are being ungrounded in the body, living out of body or harshly criticizing or judging the body. As I began to do my own work with these lessons this month I began to notice how often I was moving outside my own body. I would find myself comparing my body to others, wishing my body somehow looked different or when I was “in” my body, pushing it further than it needed to go. It was so refreshing to have this 1st chakra reminder to come back into my body and sit with those thoughts, feelings and judgements. While I certainly can’t say that I’ve moved beyond it all, I can definitely say I have become more aware of how I inhabit my own body.

This week marked the last week of practice with the 1st chakra. I feel like I’ve just begun my exploration of what the 1st chakra has to offer, its a little daunting to move on to the next. The great opportunity here is the bridging between the chakras and as I develop a stronger more grounded first chakra, the more I support my 2nd chakra, and the rest of the way up the line. While the waters of the 2nd chakra are already calling my name, here are some final practices to ground into the first chakra:

Be Here Now

Lollipop Graphics Poster

Each and every breath you take, be present in your body. As you come into a pose, notice those places that you check out. Where do you have blind spots in your practice? Where do you go numb? Are there places that you’re not able to visualize in your mind’s eye? Notice these places. Invite your awareness into these places and in particular, invite the breath. Use the breath to create space and to explore. The more you bring the breath, the easier it will be to be present.

Now start to notice the transitions you make between poses. Its easy to be present in Warrior II (well, most of the time…). But how present are you as you move from Downward Dog to Warrior II? Are you aware of how you step through? Are you fixing your clothes? Fixing your hair? Are you watching other practitioners? Make a commitment to notice your transitions, make the movement from pose to pose be the focus of your practice for a day. It relates to the idea that its easy to be centered and grounded on your yoga mat, but when you’re in transition, driving in traffic from home to class, how grounded and centered are you then? Let it all be your practice!

 

Using Sound to Connect with Earth: The Schumann Resonance

Alex Theory created a series of CDs called Full Spectrum Soundhealing. The Earth CD in the series works with the Schumann Resonance (listen to a portion of it above). I used this CD for several of the classes, as the sounds he invokes in the Earth series, are grounding and connect us with the resonate power of the Earth. The Schumann Resonance can be thought of as the heartbeat of the Earth. When we bring ourselves into alignment with this sound,we come more into alignment with the energy of the Earth and therefore our own 1st chakras.  For more about the Schumann Resonance visit my previous blog post on the topic.

1st Chakra: Earth Element

“Those who dwell among the beauties and the mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” ~ Rachel Carson

Yesterday was the beginning of the Chakra Yoga class that I teach each Wednesday at 8 Limbs Yoga Wedgwood. As I mentioned in my last post, we are starting the exploration of the chakras with the 1st chakra and will spend the entire month diving into practices geared toward accessing and exploring that specific chakra. The 1st week, our focus for the 1st chakra was its governing element, Earth. We spent the practice dropping into the connection of our bodies to the Earth and ways in which we experience the Earth element in our bodies.

The 1st chakra rests near the base of the spine at the perineum. Our exploration included a great deal of focus on running energy from the 1st chakra into the earth. This can be done in your seat or standing. In a standing pose, the legs provide a vehicle for that energy to travel downward and connect with the Earth, and vice versa, to travel back upward and feed the chakra. Rather than telling students what they should expect to experience, I opened it up to their own exploration. Truly we are our own masters and have the best knowledge about our own energetic systems. The practices listed below are opportunities to open to Earth energy, and whatever you experience beyond that is true and accurate and represents your own knowledge around Earth in your body.

Below are some practices we explored in class to connect us with the Earth:

Tree Meditation

Find a comfortable seat. Feel your sit-bones resting on the floor. Take a few breaths and feel their weight resting on the Earth. Breathe into the length of the spine and connect with the 1st chakra located a the perineum. Take a few breaths into this space and then send your awareness from your seat into the Earth. Imagine roots growing downward, with each breath sink them deeper. After 8-10 breaths, reverse the travel of energy and just as a tree’s roots feed it water and nutrients, begin to draw the energy of the Earth up the roots and into your body. Let it rise up each root imagining the energy as light, color, sensation or simply envisioning it in your mind’s eye. Take 8-10 breaths drawing the energy into the 1st chakra and feeding it. Before you open your eyes take a few breaths to notice what you feel, breathe into your own wisdom and allow the eyes to softly open.

 

Connecting with Leg Lines: A Block Between The Thighs

Try the following sequence with a block between the legs. Start at the back of your mat and move slowly, as if you were swimming through honey. When you move from Ardha Utanasana to Adho Muka Svanasana, walk the hands forward on the mat to arrive.

photo courtesy of teachasana.com

Tadasana → Utanasana →Ardha Utanasana →Adho Mukha Svanasana → Chaturanga Dandasana → Bhujangasana → Adho Mukha Svanasana → Ardha Utanasana → Utanasana → Tadasana

Focus your awareness through the duration of the practice on hugging the inner thighs into the block and experiencing the activation of energy running down the legs. Take 4-5 breaths in each pose.

 

Prithivi Mudra: Earth Mudra

image courtesy of youngever.com

Find a comfortable meditative seat and close the eyes. Let the hands move into Prithivi Mudra with the tips of thumbs and ring fingers touching. Take a few breaths and breath into the energy being generated in the hands. Let your awareness travel from the hands into the arms toward the center of the chest. Imagine a rose at the center of the chest and as you watch the rose SLOWLY blossoms, then begins to drop petal after petal.  Each petal floats downward in slow motion and comes to rest at the seat. Spend anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes in this seat, as you feel complete, release the mudra, notice what you feel and then as you’re ready open your eyes.